Is Christianity Supposed to be Masculine?
A response to John Piper’s 8 Traits of a Masculine Ministry:
3. A masculine ministry brings out the more rugged aspects of the Christian life and presses them on the conscience of the church with a demeanor that accords with their proportion in Scripture.
This is strange language indeed: “the more rugged aspects of the Christian life”. What about the more tender aspects of the Christian life? What about the more refined aspects? Why are we putting a filter on the whole counsel of God? Do we want a masculine Christianity or do we want Christianity? Surely our aim should be to understand the scriptures as best we can in our cultural context. Is Piper asking me to filter out the parts of scripture which command us to be compassionate, tender, gracious because they might be deemed effeminate? I don’t want to deliberately cut the revelation of God in Christ down so that it echoes my cultural bias or my preference for a certain style of Christianity. Dr Piper is very vocal about his love for the scriptures so I struggle to understand why he would encourage this deliberate distortion of God’s word.
Piper concedes that women could do this, but he claims the theme of Christian warfare and other rugged aspects of biblical theology and life should draw the men of the church to take them up in the spirit of a protective warrior in his family and “tribe,” rather than expecting the women to take on the spirit of a combatant for the sake of the church. This language of protective warrior reminds me of John Eldridge’s book Wild at Heart rather than the scriptures which actually happen to have quite enough examples of rugged and fierce women. Perhaps Piper’s words would have more biblical tenacity if he had said “the spirit of a protective warrior like Deborah, or Jael or Queen Esther?”
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